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No slacking off, Jokowi
dashes on

Fully charged, president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has demanded a piece of the action from the outgoing administration in directing the course of the nation, after the General Elections Commission (KPU) confirmed his victory on Tuesday.

While he awaits his inauguration on Oct. 20, Jokowi will establish a temporary office where he, vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla and a team will immediately draft working priorities to be executed once they assume office.

Jokowi’s team has also demanded that it be kept in the loop by the current administration regarding the deliberation of the 2015 state budget, scheduled to be endorsed by the current House of Representatives in August.

“We are preparing a ‘transitional office’ to map out priorities, and people considered capable of handling them, during the next two-and-a-half months until Oct. 20, so that after that we can immediately start work,” Jokowi said on Wednesday.

On the possible formation of his Cabinet, he acknowledged that several party members from the rival Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa coalition had approached his side.

However, Jokowi brushed off concerns about possible transactional politics, providing assurances that his Cabinet line-up would be filled with professionals deemed the best for the job.

A leader with a “Mr. Fix-It” reputation, Jokowi has also wasted little time in pressing for the economic reforms desired by investors who have pinned high hopes on his presidency.

Jokowi planned to cooperate with outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the formulation of the 2015 budget, said Arif Budimanta, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker who is a member of Jokowi’s economic team.

“We are thinking of inserting our strategic programs into the budget formulated by President SBY,” Arif said after holding a meeting with party officials on the incoming government’s transitional plan.

By doing so, Jokowi hoped that his own budget next year would not see significant alterations and would already be in line with his own economic vision and mission, according to Arif. “That way, people would not have to wait too long [for economic reforms] to be implemented.”

In his presidential campaign, Jokowi vowed to spur Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to at least 7 percent, a level of economic expansion that he has argued is achievable in a five-year term of leadership.

He vowed to boost tax revenue collection and undertake fuel subsidy reforms, allocating the funds to growth-generating projects such as infrastructure.

The fuel subsidy — seen as a persistent bugbear for Indonesia’s economy as it consumes 15 percent of total state spending — would be fully eliminated within a four-year time frame, Jokowi has previously pledged.

Reforms of the fuel subsidy could be initiated by a plan to lobby Yudhoyono to raise fuel prices by around 15 percent this year, with Jokowi subsequently implementing another 15 percent increase next year, according to Fauzi Ichsan, a Jakarta-based analyst who advises Jokowi on economic affairs.

“If the price of subsidized fuel is not adjusted now, then Jokowi will inherit a state budget that is very burdensome,” Fauzi said.

Government officials have confirmed that they are already in discussions regarding the design of the 2015 state budget, slated to be presented to lawmakers on Aug. 15.

Finance Minister Chatib Basri said that he would welcome the intention of the Jokowi-Kalla government to take part in the discussion on the budget’s framework.

However, Chatib argued that the discussion between the existing administration and Jokowi could be done immediately only on the condition that there was no challenge to the election result in the Constitutional Court.

If there is any legal challenge filed, there would only be clarity on Indonesia’s president-elect by Aug. 24 at the earliest — long after the deadline for submitting the 2015 budget to lawmakers.

Nevertheless, Chatib argued that further reform to the fuel subsidy would “very, very likely” be undertaken before Yudhoyono leaves office. “If I was being asked now about the best economic policy to be undertaken, regardless [of whether it was] by the current or incoming government, then my sole answer would be: raise the price of subsidized fuel.”

Other pressing issues requiring discussion with the current administration revolve around contract renegotiations between the government and mining giants, as well as confirmation over a plan to ease the export tax for raw mineral commodities.

For his remaining term in office, Yudhoyono has pledged that his administration will not issue any strategic policies unless they have been discussed with and approved by the incoming administration.

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